Use this tag for questions about the usage of articles (e.g. a, an, and the).

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64
votes
11answers
18k views

When should I use “a” vs “an”?

In the following example, is it appropriate to use a or an as the indefinite article, and why? He ate __ green apple. I know that in the case of just "apple", it would be "an apple," but I've ...
109
votes
7answers
44k views

Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms?

99% of the time, I'm clear on when I should use "a" versus "an." There's one case, though, where people & references I respect disagree. Which of the following would you precede with "a" or "an," ...
31
votes
5answers
9k views

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: ...
61
votes
8answers
3k views

“A/An” preceding a parenthetical statement

When a/an precedes a parenthetical aside (sometimes seen in informal/conversational writing), should the vowel rule depend on the first word in parentheses, or the next word in the "regular" flow of ...
47
votes
8answers
16k views

Is there a reason the British omit the article when they “go to hospital”?

Why do British speakers omit the article in constructions like "go to hospital" or "go on holiday"? Pretty much all American speakers would rephrase those as "go to the hospital" and "go on a ...
10
votes
4answers
13k views

Is it “a uniform” or “an uniform”? [duplicate]

On a Physics specification, it says: 6.7 Know how to use two permanent magnets to produce a uniform magnetic field pattern. Isn't it "produce an uniform magnetic field", or is the existing ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Use of definite article before phrases like Heathrow Airport, Hyde Park, Waterloo Station, Edgware Road and Parliament Square

In this related question (Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun), the OP asks if it is grammatical to use the definite article before phrases like Advanced programming ...
9
votes
1answer
771 views

Omission of “the” in “elected him president” and “made captain”

Why is there no the before president and captain? They elected him president. She was made captain of the team.
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Difference between 'all' and 'all the'

I came across people using all the in sentences instead of all. Select the type of user to view all the users of that type. All the users of the selected role are displayed. I usually strike ...
0
votes
0answers
655 views

“A user” or “an user”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of “a” versus “an” “A” becomes “an” before a word beginning with a vowel, does this apply to “u”? Is it “a ...
11
votes
1answer
547 views

“A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation

When starting a word with a vowel, the preceding "a" becomes an "an". I often find that when writing words that start with letter "N" or "M", I will pronounce them "EN", "EM", etc. (This is because in ...
2
votes
0answers
182 views

an SQA or a SQA? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? Although I am clear about the usage of 'an' and 'a' on most cases, but I am not sure how they are applied ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

“An SQL Server database schema” or “a SQL Server database schema”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? I got the following sentence from the book I'm reading: You can take a database-first approach by ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Use of “them” as an article, not a pronoun

I've seen a lot of times the pronoun them used like an article. For example, in the title of the Delta Rhythm Boys Them bones, or in the first sentence of "Money for nothing": Now look at them ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Do I need to put “the” before “most” in this sentence?

Is putting “the” before “most” in this sentence compulsory, optional, or a mistake? Fascination with language and attention to particular regions and communities in America are the most common ...
37
votes
8answers
3k views

Why is there no plural indefinite article?

The takes either a singular or a plural subject. A/an only takes the singular. When we pluralize a noun preceded by an indefinite article, we simply drop the article (sometimes replacing it with ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

Why use “the” for oceans/seas/rivers etc. but not lakes?

Possibly two questions in here: Are these sentence constructions logical, and if they are, why are they different? I swam across the Ocmulgee River. I swam across the Pacific Ocean. I swam ...
11
votes
4answers
22k views

“As part of” versus “as a part of”

When should I use "as part of", and when "as a part of"?
9
votes
5answers
763 views

Do idioms pose an exception to normal definite and indefinite article usage?

I found this phrase in my biology textbook (emphasis added): ...in relation to Earth's history, 100,000 years or even a million years is the blink of an eye. The part of the phrase in question ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Capitalising the definite article in names

When I was a youngster some mumble-mumble-mumble decades ago, I was taught that, in the instances of names of persons, places, and things which carried the definite article the, the article wasn’t ...
9
votes
2answers
377 views

“There is X” vs “There is a/an X”

1: There is a reluctance on the part of European companies to buy from American sources. 2: There is an emphasis on the organic roots of spirituality. 3: There is a tendency to make the ...
1
vote
7answers
3k views

How do American English and British English use the definite article differently?

I decided to make sure that I know this important difference between American and British English, so I wrote what I have found out so far and I would be grateful to anyone who reads this and tells me ...
0
votes
0answers
176 views

A becomes an before a word beginning with a vowel, does this apply to u? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of “a” versus “an” Is it “a uniform” or “an uniform” In spoken English we do say: He is an unhappy person But I ...
-5
votes
6answers
1k views

Have there been any movements/tendencies to remove definite and indefinite articles from English in the recent history of English?

My question is if there were some "movements" that propose to remove definite and indefinite articles completely in the last 100 or 200 years (or even more older). E.g. "a book" will be just "book" ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it correct to write “a 5-mm-thick layer”?

Do I need hyphens? Should I use the indefinite article or zero article?
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Use (or non-use) of articles before abstract nouns

I know I have asked a similar question before but this time I have examples taken from COCA and they do puzzle me. I would love to hear explanations from native speakers. The following (incomplete) ...
6
votes
2answers
962 views

ABC, NBC vs. the BBC and the ABC

I am writing a style guide at my company, and for the life of me, I can't explain why U.S. broadcasters "ABC" and "NBC" seem to need no article as a noun, while the U.K. broadcaster "BBC" always gets ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

City names with articles

Typically we don't use articles with city names, e.g. "Seattle" and not "the Seattle." I know at least one exception though which is The Hague. Are there any other city names which we use with the ...
4
votes
5answers
18k views

Is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? Why?

is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? 'A usual' sounds more correct in my head ('Today was a usual day.') than 'an usual', but u is a vowel. Which one is correct and why?
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Definite article with plural nouns

Are there cases where the definite article is used with a plural noun, or is it a rule that the definite article is never used with the plural of a word?
4
votes
10answers
1k views

Why is it ‘A God,’ not ‘God' in Mark Sanford’s “I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances, but third, fourth, eighth chances”?

There was a quote of ex-South Carolina governor Mark Sanford in his victory speech in the House vacant seat election in the New York Times article (May 13) written by Gail Collins under the title ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Use or omit “the” before profession?

This image-stabilising system for a hand-held camera, developed by cameraman Garrett Brown in 1973, offers (...) Wouldn't it be more correct to write "the cameraman Garrett Brown"? Is omitting ...
3
votes
2answers
133 views

Who is Greek president vs Who is THE Greek President

Saw this in a quiz on Stuff. Surely the word "the" should be in there somewhere? But I get the feeling I've heard things like "US President Barack Obama" instead of "The US President Barack ...
3
votes
3answers
212 views

Is there a usage of “the” that indicates one out of a group of many?

Considering the sentence Nearly anything can be a weapon in a martial artist’s hands., the indefinite article a indiciates that this can be any martial artist out of all in the world. Next, consider ...
0
votes
0answers
153 views

Why shouldn't we say “an user”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use “a” vs “an”? Does one use 'a' or 'an' before the word X-Ray? As far as I understood, you prefix "an" instead ...
13
votes
2answers
10k views

Is it “a user” or “an user” [duplicate]

Since user starts with a vowel shouldn't we use "an" ? I've seen many cases of using "a" .
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Dropping articles in the title (of an article or a section) or in the caption (of a figure or a table)? What's the general rule?

It is said that "To give added punch, articles are often dropped in the titles" Source: http://www.davidappleyard.com/english/articles.htm Is there any general rule or reference about dropping ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it necessary to use “the” multiple times?

It seems that the question has eventually become a series of questions.... Question 1 An example goes as: The 1st and (the) 2nd paragraphs of the article are extremely long. Is it necessary ...
4
votes
2answers
432 views

When should I repeat the definite article?

I am a bit confused about the rule of setting the definite article in a sentence when it is associated to two nouns. The beginning and end of the channel. The beginning and the end of the ...
4
votes
4answers
488 views

Which is more common - 'the most' or 'most'?

A thing I have never had the time to look more closely into. But I find both variants: What I love most is ... or What I love the most is ... I think the more common form is 'the most', ...
4
votes
2answers
421 views

What is the articulatory logic behind the “a/an” rule in English?

Is there some articulatory reason behind why we choose to preface consonant sounds with the article a and vowel sounds with an? The reasoning I've read in the comments somewhere, I don't remember ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

“Planning for next year” vs. “planning for the next year”

I would like to start planning for next year. In the above sentence, there is no definite article before the words next year. Should it be present, as in the following sentence which sounds far ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Difference between 'than others' and 'than the others' [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Incriminating others vs. Incriminating the others: Is this sentence correct? When should one of these be preferred over another for sentences of the form "A is different ...
2
votes
1answer
259 views

“Bad weather doesn't exist” vs. “The bad weather doesn't exist”

Should it be: Bad weather doesn't exist. or The bad weather doesn't exist.
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is Ukraine often called “the Ukraine”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using the definite article before a country/state name Hearing the Ukraine used to make me unsure whether Ukraine was really a country. Now though I have realized ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

“What kind of a person” vs. “what kind of person”

I often hear people saying what kind of [singular noun] rather than what kind of a [singular noun]. Are we not supposed to use an article (a) before noun?
6
votes
2answers
297 views

Should there be an article before “mayor” in “the role of mayor”?

SimCity, for example, casts youth in the role of mayor. I'm not sure if I understand the usage of zero article correctly. There is no article before 'mayor' as this is the instance where we ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

Should “an” be used before words beginning with “h”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “A historic…” or “An historic…”? Should an be used before words beginning with 'h'? What about when the 'h' is silent and is ...
3
votes
3answers
853 views

Use of the definite article “the” before “church”

I was in a Teacher's selection for a school in my country, and one of the coordinators said that she heard a mistake from another teacher that was unacceptable. I tried to figure out why was that, but ...
3
votes
2answers
430 views

Articles with general concepts

I have the following sentence in the beginning of a chapter: This chapter lays down the fundamentals of distributed processing. It provides the basics for data processing... I would like to ask ...